Writing for RWCMD’s New Writing Festival « #RWCMD

While ‘the show must go on’ is a phrase often heard in the theatre world, we all know this has recently turned into ‘the show must…move online.’

At the College we’ve been able to continue creating work throughout the pandemic* which has meant that the Richard Burton Company’s final year Acting, Stage Management and Design for Performance students could still work with the writers and directors of this year’s NEW season to create four brand new productions – although of course with all the Covid restrictions in place.

We spoke to the writers of each of the four NEW ’21 plays about their experience working with our students:


Vickie Donoghue who wrote The Electric, a modern retelling of Electra by Sophocles said, ‘I’ve seen so many amazing plays as part of NEW before and thought I’d love to do that. Of course it’s rare for a writer to get the opportunity to write a big fat play with a huge cast and it’s a real treat.’

Jennifer Lunn, who wrote Terroir, a collaboration with Sherman Theatre, says she had wanted to work with the College ever since she moved to Cardiff.

‘It feels a real privilege to be working at all right now, but particularly working with these amazing students… It’s been a real honour to write specifically for them.’

A scene from ‘Terroir’

The four plays started with a week of research & development (R&D) towards the end of 2020. Working on new writing gives the students the chance to have genuine input into the creative process, collaborating and developing relationships with the writers and directors together in the room.

RWCMD Writer in Residence, Chinonyerem Odimba wrote The Toll (featured in the main image) and found this week really helped her decide what she wanted to write as they really got to explore the overall themes of the play.

‘It was important to write an ensemble piece, giving each student an opportunity to shine in their strengths,’ said Chino.

‘It’s been an amazing partnership with me, my director Stef O’Driscoll and the cast who’ve really been collaborators on this show,’ said Robert Alan Evans, writer of The Ache.

‘The students get this experience of ownership over a new play. They understand by the end of it how it comes about and their part in it and that they are not powerless. They are as much creators of this production as me, or the director, or anyone else.’

Jennifer agrees: ‘It’s got them in it. They’re a huge part of the development of the play. There are lines in there that are theirs that have come along in rehearsal. They are the Terroir of the play and it’s better for having their input.’

The rehearsal room was where the magic really happened with the plays often changing as they worked their way through them.

As writer Chino said, ‘I loved the dialogue between me, the play and the students – It kept pushing the story. It’s a very unique thing… to work with the students specifically on what that play needs.’

‘The students have been so professional,’ said Vickie. ‘I couldn’t have done it without them. The cast were so up for it and so generous in the week of development. They were a dream for a writer to work with.’

NEW also enables the students to learn to work within an industry setting:

‘Working on The Ache was a good reflection of how I work in the professional world,’ said Robert, ‘and the students have really come up to the mark.’

‘The Ache’

‘I hope this experience will send them out into the world ready to work on new writing,’ said Jennifer.

*thanks to our professional training status in Wales and a range of special Covid safety adaptions.

The students performed NEW live earlier this term. It’s now available to view online until June 20th. Find out how to get tickets on our Whats On pages.

Find out more about our acting course at RWCMD 

*thanks to our professional training status in Wales and a range of special Covid safety adaptions.

With many thanks to our MA Arts Management placement student Sebastian Harker for writing this blog. 

Photos: Kirsten McTernan

The Electric Creative Team:

Director: Anthony Simpson-Pike

Set Designer: Dan Southwell

Costume Designer: Tierney Dore

Lighting Designer: Paul Kaiba

Sound Designer: Lewis Murray


Terroir Creative Team:

Director: Sara Lloyd

Set & Costume Designer: Dan Southwell

Lighting Designer: Paul Kaiba

Sound Designer: Lewis Murray


The Toll Creative Team:

Director: Jesse Jones

Composers: Ryan Elliot, Anna Wood

Set & Costume Designer: Bea Viña

Lighting Designer: Jamie Holden


The Ache Creative Team:

Director: Stef O’Driscoll

Set & Costume Designer: Ellen Collings

Lighting Designer: Jamie Holden

Sound Designer: Lauren Moir

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